Swimmin' in da Pond

The frog pond that is. I screwed up all my courage and frogged those projects that have been haunting me. The mermaid scarf that I will never finish because I can't find the yarn. The bellocq stockings that I couldn't concentrate on and therefore lost interest. I'm still working up to the barely started shawl. I had hoped to salvage it, but to tink back a row of alpaca lace weight x-hundred stitches around just wasn't happening. I gave it an honest try, tinked maybe 10 stitches, and gave up in frustration. Maybe next week I'll rip it out entirely and re-appropriate the yarn. I bought the lovely lovely and super educational book Victorian Lace Today, and I adored it. There are more than a few projects I'd like to try. But not all at once. The newly reclaimed sock and shawl yarn will go towards a new shawl. Even though I haven't finished blocking the MS3 yet, due to lack of proper blocking supplies. I have no pins and wires. Its fine for sweaters and scarves and hats, but Not so OK for lace.

I have no picture (I have to recharge my camera again) but I knit a make-it-up-as-you-go-along hat for my Pop-pop, who is having chemotherapy tomorrow afternoon. Mom requested that I make him one to keep his head warm when all his hair falls out. A fair assessment would reveal that he really doesn't have that much hair to begin with, but I made him a hat anyway out of leftover yarn from my harry potter upperclassman scarf. I had some very light grey and some dark blue leftover (I did ravenclaw colors), so I made the base the light grey with a stripe of dark blue every 4th row. Its a simple 2x2 rib that I cabled, but the stripes overpower the cable so much you don't really notice it, except as a bit of added texture. It looks nice though, and its wool so his head will stay warm.

In a frenzy of Internet shopping- these things come and go-- I have ordered an ass-load of yarn that now and will continue to exceed my current storage limits. I'm gonna have to get creative. I don't want to hide the yarn, so I'm thinking some wicker baskets from Walmart nailed to the wall will make nice display and storage. I ordered yarn for a blanket designed by Brooklyn Tweed, a blogger I recently discovered, and whose knitting I absolutely adore. The Hemlock blanket and the Red Light Special hat are his and my yarn has arrived and is waiting. IN that order I also got yarn for a bobble purse and the long awaited felting needle. Now I need some foam to support the 3-D form while I felt it. I"m so close to finishing it and yet so far.
Then, because I'm now plying my second ounce of yarn (the grey) and I only have 2 oz left, I got panicky and ordered some merino roving off e-bay. Then knit picks had a sale. Lord save me, I bought several more skeins of lace weight, and that Highland knits book I've been coveting. Both of those orders are en route to my house.

I should be swimming in projects by now but I neglected to think about needles. I'm using a size smaller for the purse, since the dimensions aren't so important so long as they match on both sides. But some other projects may be on hold for a while. What I really need is a Knitpicks Options needle set. Then I'd never not have the right size. . . . . .



I've only been mildly productive this week. I finished mom's scarf. It looks like this:
The stitch pattern is from Vouge Stitchionary, the name is something descriptive like diagonal rib or something. I did 3 repeats all the way down the scarf. Because its a traveling stitch it gave the ends a nice finish all by themselves, nothing you could or should put fringe on (thank god). Instead I opted to do a single crochet rib all the way around the edge in a contrasting color. The yarns are the same I used for her pumpkin hat, except for the green trim. Her hat has a two tone green stem, so it still matches enough to count. Before I blocked it (I don't have any pictures) it was a curly scrunchy mess. Once again the magic of blocking took place and made the scarf flat and beautiful.

Please observe mom in her ensemble for this years DE Punkin Chunkin.

Sorry the picture's dark. Probably I should have turned the light on first. We are cave dwellers here. With the eerie glow of the computer, she looks all set for Halloween. Don't tell her I said that ;)

OH, and if you were curious, I recently ordered some yarn from Nistock farms in NY. It was a starter kit for beginners complete with what I think is an ounce of four different yarns, a drop spindle and an instruction book. I wouldn't have been able to figure it out from their pamphlet, but I had bought the weekend before a book from Barnes and noble called Spin to Knit. Lovely book, lots of instructive step by step pictures, and good instructions. With these tools I became a spinner. :)
I had been thinking about it for a while, but by buying the book I committed myself to the task. Fibre followed soon after.
It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but halfway through the first skein I kind of knew what I was doing. I chose the color I liked least to start with, so I didn't mind so much if I screwed it up. Its a blend of orange and blue I'm not crazy over. The yarn is very thick and thin and I haven't gauged it yet but I'm pretty sure its quite bulky.
Here it is while its drying in the sun:

I was going to show you a picture of it all skeined up in my center pull ball. The first one i've made on my shiny new nostpine I made from a piece of driftwood I got from the river. Already small and smooth yes? Almost no work to make it yarn safe. Its 11 1/2 inches long. I really liked the natural looking wood ones I saw online, but I couldn't justify paying 15$ for one when I could pick a stick up out of the backyard and make one myself. So I did. (Technically the river is not my backyard, but lets not split hairs here).

Ahah! My patience is rewarded. Here is my skein of bulky complimentary colored yarn. My first handmade yarn ever!!! How exciting. I had a hard time choosing what yarn to spin next. There was white and grey undyed, and a lovely pink/yellow combination I find very appealing and spring like. I'm saving that one for last, when I've really got this spinning thing down. I chose the grey next, and Its spinning so much more nicely than the dyed yarn did. I don't think its entirely the improvement of my own skill. The grey yarn sticks to itself better, and is less fuzzy. I can spin it much thinner, and may be able to get at the very thinnest a sport weight once I ply it. Ooh, I chose the easiest plying method-- spinning the single into a center pull ball, then attaching both ends to the spindle to make it ply. Then I had to re ball it. I was going to try Andean plying, but I couldn't figure out how to wrap it around my hand (written instructions were a bit cumbersome) and not cut off my circulation in the process. It probably didn't help that I was watching scary movies on sci-fi at the same time.

One last picture, then its time to watch Moonlight, my new favorite TV show.



Denial is a Good Thing

I've had a very productive day today. Much cleaning and finishing was done.

First of all, I finished my cactus sweater, finally its blocked. And my denial served me well. Because. . . it fits.

TA DA!!!! I finished it just in time for it to be 80 degrees in October. Freak weather. . . We'll pay for it later in February, when we all get snowed in for 3 weeks and worry that we might run out of stash before the roads clear enough for us to order more yarn. ( My stash is not as developed as other peoples, I have a small budget, which I continually blow).

At any rate, as you can see, blocking did not help the insufficent lengths of strands in the back, and consequently the sweater pulls. I'm hoping no one notices.

I also finished my pumpkin hat, and my stuffed pumpkin. Both are very cute.

So I feel very accomplished today overall, but also in my knitting. I ordered more stuff from knit picks, and I won't feel so bad about starting a new project now that I've got these other ones completely finished. In my order is a needle felter thingie, so I can get to work on my voodoo doll.
Mom's pumpin scarf is progressing quickly. I ended up picking a travelling rib stitch that has yarnovers and makes a diagonal. Its interesting to look at, and even though its a two row repeat, its not so boring as other things I had considered so I'm happy with it. TV knitting. I also decided to do a crochet stitch border around the edges to help stablize it and keep it from curling up. (I'm still gonna block it. Not stupid. . . no). Oh, and the sc will be a contrasting green color. I tried it out around the bottom to see how it would look and its quite nice.
Next time, My Adventures in Spinning Land.


Almost FO's

I took the poll that Knitting Daily put out in today' s email. I was shocked to find that technically I had 9 UFOs lurking about my room. Two of them-- My sweater and my MS3 are finished being knit, but I still have to block them to make them wearable. I have a pair of socks and a shawl that need worked on. The mermaid scarf I can't finish because I cant find the yarn- it was a skein of cheap-o acrylic that a friend gave me, and I ran out before I could finish. I may end up ripping it out and stashing the yarn somewhere. Also doomed are the Belloq stockings- the ones for my sister that I lost interest in. I can't bring myself to rip it out. I'd actually like to give it another try. . . some other time.
My felted pumpkin is also languishing- I've finally felted it, but I haven't gotten around to stuffing it yet. This photo is pre-felting. For my voodoo doll below, I need a felting needle.It's going to be really cute. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I'm entering it into the piecework contest. Right now I need to stuff it and embroider it, though if I can get away with using plies of yarn instead of wool fiber for the embellishments, that's what I'm going to try. I'm going to felt it all over to take the stretch out of the knitting, and make a more solid fabric for the pins to stick through. I'm afraid the stuffing will distort the figure if I try to pack in enough to make it pretty solid if I don't.
I'll have photos of the finished pumpkin hat tomorrow (the one thing I did finish, all I had to do was weave in a end). I'm currently working on mom's pumpkin scarf, I had thought to put little pumpkins on it, but I'm still devising my method. I may take the easy route out and make it an x by 1 rib with some kind of fun fur edging to make her happy. ( I know I know, but she bought it for me and I have to use the crap up somehow. Damn you Ollies, Damn you!!!)
I haven't counted, but I believe that makes 9. I'm going to count now. Yeah. I need to get busy. And try really hard not to order yarn for all those projects I'm dying to cast on for. Some of them I can actually knit from stash. . . .


Sweater Woes

Ha ha! I got the title in and forgot to type the post. Whoops. That's a prime example of ADD right there.

At any rate, my sweater is progressing rapidly. I'm nearly finished. I have one row of decreases, and after that, I have to do the collar and sew up the armpits. That's it.
Please note that the knitted blanket is not one that I made, I bought it at a church yard sale for a sickeningly low price. I have knit that pattern before though, with M1 instead of Yo's in a pair of socks I made for my grandmother. The blue and brown one I crocheted for myself last summer in about two days.
Even though I"m making good progress on the sweater there are a couple things I don't like. I'm still having gauge issues. I think I can get away with just enough yarn to finish the sweater. Despite this fact, the sweater fits snugly, instead of very loosely, as in the photo on my previous post. Everything I have is either too small or too big. I think my size changes inversely in proportion to the size I intend to make. The sweater is not so tight that I can't wear it, it just doesn't fit like in the picture. I suspect I may have knit the wrong size.

Sorry it's sideways, I don't feel like fixing it. You get the idea.

My other problem is that even though I got good results knitting back and forth on my swatch, Knitting in the round with lots and lots of stitches scrunched up on the needle made for bad bad puckering on the bottom half of the design. I'm deluding myself into thinking that it'll block out. Laugh if you must. I'm going to try anyway.

My final issue is that the size needle I used for the sleeves and hem was probably a little too small. I"m going to use a larger size for the neckline. I certainly hope my next sweater turns out better.

And just for kicks, here are my purple comfy socks again, I love these things. The photo is much better this time. Please disregard the awkward ridge in the middle. I'm wearing a pair of ankle socks underneath. :)


Here's Progress

I've gotten a massive amount of work done on my cactus blossom sweater this past week. I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with miles of stockinette in the round and size 9 needles. Regardless, I have the body done up to the point where I have to join the sleeves, one sleeve done, and the second sleeve just past the color work.
This is what it looks like as of yesterday:

Click on the image to make it bigger.
As you can see, Its not too bad for my first real attempt at two- color knitting.I used the same yarn called for in the pattern (usually I don't, but this was within budget) with the exception of the Boku, of which I chose a different color.

I also added an inch to the tops of the sleeves, I'm long limbed, and I like to have my sleeves over my hands. It looks like the sweater has long sleeves already, I'm just covering my bases.

If you recall I started out with a swatch in a completely unrelated pattern just to practice with.

I used left over yarn from my cinchy hats and a free pattern from the net to try out different techniques to see what works best for me. It turns out that all of them were really awkward for me so I've ended up just dropping the yarn I'm not working with to the back and picking up the next one. It's undeniably slower than other techniques but it feels more comfortable, and I can keep the best tension that way.

Please notice the lovely Bella Lugosi to your left.

Also notice the mirror image phenomena of my left handed knitting.

See how it got reversed??? That was entirely unintentional. Kinda cool, but not if you want your sweater to come out a certain way. Fortunately, the pattern on the cactus sweater is symmetrical, so I don't have to worry about trying to follow the charts backwards or anything.

Since I had to go up a needle size, and I think my gauge is still a little tight I'm worried that I may have to order an extra skein of yarn. Given the unseasonably warm weather, I won't order any unless I'm absolutely sure I need it. Not that I mind having an extra skein or two lying around but its not emergency sweater weather yet, and I can work on another couple projects in the interim.

I have to finish my pumpkin, its now felted, but it needs to be stuffed, and I have no stuffing. Also in need of stuffing is my secret project voodoo doll, which I've designed myself, and intend to submit to the Interweave Piecework Pincushion Contest. They seem like a bunch of straight laced people, so perhaps they won't appreciate it as much as I do, but if it doesn't make the cut, I'm thinking about submitting it to Knitty. At any rate, it's going to be pretty awesome.

I also have to make before the end of October, a pumpkin hat for myself ( I made 3 in January for my mom and her two friends, after we attended Punkin Chunkin in DE the previous Nov.) And of course, my mom the Libra wants a pumpkin scarf to match. Lucky me. I'll probably be designing that one as well.

And finally, the piece de resistance: I bought a really awesome bag to tote around my knitting in for only a dollar at a church yard sale.
I'm not a pink person, but a Dollar!!!! It's lightweight, and lined, and it has two different shades of grey to balance out the pink. I'm quite pleased.



I seem to have a backlog of photos due to my camera's recent indisposition (it needed to be charged) and my own lack of energy (never got around to charging it). Well I charged it last night, and found I had used up all my memory anyway. I freed up some space, and here's what I've got to show ya.

First: Vacation Knitting. I finished the summertime tunic a week after I came back from vacation.

On the left you see it in progress, while I was in progress I believe on the way home.

Here it is today, as I attempt to model it in what may be my blurriest photo yet. I apologize for this and all future blurriness. I need to start tinkering with the f-stops or something.

Next I believe are socks.

First are the would be gift socks I made and ended up giving to mom. In the middle you see the detail on the foot. Very nice, stretchy, easy to memorize. Only one skein of the Knit Picks essential was needed ( I used a test dye lot they had on special sale because the colors weren't bright enough), and enough was left over in the one skein that I think I can make a pair for me and my larger feet.

On the right in the super-dark picture are my comfy socks. they are both comfy and warm. I used Knit Picks (again) Cadena In Heath. I'll try to get a better picture later. you can actually see my rug better than the socks. I've got to work on my photography skills.

My many hats, or a hat of a different color, or Erin and her technicolored hats:

These are the cinchy hats, I made two. The first one, I got a little carried away with color. The second one is the hat I had intended to make, to match both my coat and my harry potter scarf. I used Lion Brand wool for felting. They look cool, and the second one fits much better than the first one. The first one I started over because my co-worker Em scared me into thinking it was going to be too small. She was wrong. With the bigger needles it turned out too big. The second one I knitted on the called for size, and got a perfect fit.
Once again, the first hat was too big, but this time it was due to my mis-reading of the pattern. It's still wearable, it just slides down over my eyes a bit. The second (technically the third) hat I knitted exactly right. What you don't see pictured is a hat in blues and browns and blacks that I made for above mentioned co-worker. I used Patons soy wool stripes for these, because of the long color repeats. I knit this pattern 3 different ways (the second hat for my coworker I knit on a needle one size smaller to accommodate for my misreading of directions. It was as I was doing the finishing rows that I realized my mistake and cast on for the third one) and no way could I keep the yarn yardage within one skein (these babys are $6/skein), and always ended up using just a little bit of the second skein. you have no idea how annoying that is. I love these hats, and I love this pattern. Three hats will probably not be the end of it. The pattern is easy to knit, and it looks super complicated. They look designer. I love this. I may currently be experiencing a hat obsession.
Please allow me to take a break and do a second post later about my current project. It's super. This post is loooong and its gonna take forever to load. Sorry this is so picture heavy. I'll try to be a better blogger.


Math is a Four Letter Word

It really is. I hate math, and it looks like, with the help of a couple of my knitting books, I'm going to have to do some calculations in order to get a sweater that fits with a needle size too small. My cactus sweater calls for size 8 circs, and a gauge of 16 sts to 24 rows for a 4x4 swatch. I got 20 sts to 24. Need I say more. I don't have a size 9 circ, nor do I ever recall having seen on in the stores. PLus, (with an extra PL) I like the way the fabric knits up at 20 sts. I'm afraid if I do find a needle and go up a size, I won't like the resulting fabric.

My hypothesized solution is to calculate how many sts I will have for a 40" sweater, as opposed to what is called for, and compare it to the next size smaller. If I'm getting an extra stitch per inch of fabric, it may be possible to still use the size 8's following the directions for a size smaller, and still get a sweater that fits. Please tell me that makes sense. I wish I had someone grounded in the real world to propose my theory to, and whom could straighten me out a bit. I have a feeling I"m going to have to learn by trial and error, as usual.

Actually, now that I think about it, if I have more sts, shouldn't I follow directions for a bigger size, with the result of the size I actually need???
Oh God....